Posted by: atowhee | August 24, 2016


Maine now has America’s newest national park: Katahdin Woods and Waters.  It is officially a new national monument. That takes no Congressional action, unlike full park status.  The park was designated today by President Obama, and the shade of Teddy Roosevelt was far back in the mists of time, grinning and shaking a big stick.  This area is in the far north woods of New England, up against the Canadian border.

Posted by: atowhee | August 23, 2016


Here’s a note from Jim Hardman on his excursion recently to the Ashland area, in search of the Great Gray Owl: “Harry, Drove down to Howard prairie lake sunday afternoon and camped for the night. Went out monday morning and Found this guy at Two Pines meadow – He was back in the woods and up in a tree about 120 ft.  Too far up to get a detailed photo but I’m happy for the experience and and a chance to see this magnificent creature.  Heard him calling and then it took about a half hour to locate him and a while longer to find a hole through the limbs and foliage for a view.”

Here’s Jim’s picture:HARD-GGO

If you’re interested in knowing more about this owl in Oregon and neighboring states, here’s a link to information on my book about our Pacific Slope Great Gray Owls.

It is likely there are more Great Gray Owls in Jackson County, Oregon, than in all of California where they are on the state’s endangered species list.

Posted by: atowhee | August 23, 2016


The current (September, 2016) issue of “National Geographic” clearly and trenchantly describes what happened during the heating of the Pacific Ocean along the North American coast during 2013-2015.  The magazine this month includes a brilliant full-color illustration of the effects such heating, how it affects the nutritional value of the ocean, how up-welling changes and some of the many species that pay the price.  Buy it if you can, read it online.  This is our future along the Pacific Coast.

Click here to see the “National Geographic” article on El Nino and what happens when the Pacific Ocean heats up as it did in 2013-2015.

Posted by: atowhee | August 23, 2016


An invasive earthworm species originally from Asia has now been found in two locations in Oregon.  That’s bad news from our forests as this worm stays near the surface and if the population is large enough they consume all the litter beneath the trees in a forest, opening the soil to erosion and desiccation.  Click here for more info.

The worms are often flipping about on the surface, not like other invasives or our native worms. Often called Asian jumping worm, they are scientifically named “Amynthas agresitis.” They’ve been found in Clackamas and Josephine Counties.

Posted by: atowhee | August 23, 2016


These are golden days here in lower Willamette Valley.  Not just the bright solar orb on a flat blue scrim, though that can be seen as burnished gold.  There are flecks of gold circulating, little clusters of American Goldfinches starting to gather before fall migration.  They are in my garden and then down at Baskett Slough there were a couple pretending to be shorebirds, imitating Least Sandpipers.AMGO BEACH (1280x960) AMGO BEACH2 (1280x960) AMGO TRAY BEST (1280x960) AMGO TRAY CRWD (1280x960) AMGO TRAY CRWD2 (1280x960) AMGO TRAY1 (1280x960) AMGO TRAY2 (1280x960) AMGO TRAY3 (1280x960) AMGO WITH SEEDS (1280x960)Here is the mythical ghost-finch:

GHOST FINCH (1280x960)2finchs2 (1280x960)House Finch family gathered at the local eatery: 3finchs (1280x960) 3finchs2 (1280x960)Male Kestrel stares me down from his high wire perch. KEST ON BLU (1280x960) KEST ON BLU2 (1280x960)The Least Sandpipers along the shore of the Colville Road Pond: LESA FLK (1280x960) NTRIA WASH (1280x960)Nutria. NTRIA WASH2 (1280x960)White Pelicans. WPEL FLK (1280x960)

Baskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Aug 22, 2016 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM.  22 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  1000
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  10
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  2
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  30
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)  43
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  6
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  8
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  20
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  2
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)  27
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi)  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  4
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)  100
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  300
Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)  25
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  30
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  8

Posted by: atowhee | August 21, 2016


My wife and I made a quick mid-day circuit of Baskett Slough NWR.  Bright sun, no wind, swallows on the wing and on the wires as they begin to collect and move southward.  Today it was Violet-Green and Barn.ONA WIRE (1280x960) ona wire2

But highlight was a swirl of White Pelicans, dropping down from overhead and floating in circles, ever lower until they landed with a few of their kind already loafing on a mudflat.  They were in Parvipes Marsh east of Smithfield Road.  Dozens of Great Egrets were lurking along the shore there as well.PELS LANDING (1280x960) PELS ON LAND (1280x960)

The shorebirds we saw were all the pond at the south end of Taverner’s Marsh just north of Colville Road.  In this photo, left to right: yellowlegs, dowitcher, Least Sandpiper in the grass:SHOREBIRDS CLEAR (1280x960) SHOREBRDS3 (1280x960)The Dunlin were too far away for photos.

Gold medal for all around performance must go to the many Great Egrets.  At Taverner’s Marsh one flew the length of the pond to drive off a second egret.EGRET FLITES (1280x960) EGRET FLITES2 (1280x960) EGRET FLITES3 (1280x960) EGRET FLITES4 (1280x960)The successful attacker, then turned back and landed along the edge of the pond to hunt undisturbed. EGRET FLITES5 (1280x960)Then we watched another egret stalk the marsh right along Colville Road and swallow several small bits of prey stabbed and jerked from the water.EGRET POISD (1280x960) EGRET STAB (1280x960) EGRET STAB2 (1280x960) EGRET STAB4 (1280x960) EGRET STAND (1280x960) EGRET STAND2 (1280x960)The swallow: EGRET SWALO (1280x960) EGRET SWALO2 (1280x960)

Baskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Aug 21, 2016 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM.   20 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  15
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  X
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)  30
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  5
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  50
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  4
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  1
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)  2
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)  15
Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)  1
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  6
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)  30
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  75
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  6
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  40
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  8

Posted by: atowhee | August 19, 2016


As the temp rises toward 100 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, most waterproof animals dreamed of a cooling swim.  My dog couldn’t wait to get into the shrunken North Yamhill River.  And in that same river was a bathing male Wilson’s Warbler.WIWA BATH (1280x960) WIWA BATH2 (1280x960) WIWA BATH3 (1280x960) The layers of limbs made it impossible to get a clear shot across the stream bed.  Not affected by the sun was this treetopping Wood-Pewee.WPW IN SUN (1280x960)Another bird high in the sky: Acorn Woodpecker.ACWO LOOK2 ACWO LOOKS (1280x960)

Wennerberg Park, Carlton, OR, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Aug 19, 2016 10:00 AM – 10:40 AM.  11 species [no Robins, unusual for this site]

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  2
Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  3
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  2
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  25
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  1
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  X
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)  1
Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)  1
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  1, House Finch

Posted by: atowhee | August 19, 2016


komorebiHere it is, Wennerberg Park’s own exemplary komorebi.  That’s a marvelous Japanese word for “sunlight filtered through leaves.”  In this particular case, bigleaf maple leaves.

I guess the Northern European origins and cultural context of English would make it highly unlikely something like sunlight filtered through leaves would warrant its own special term.  It has no trade, political or economic value.  Totally worthless on the battle field.  And our Saxon and Celtic linguistic forebears spent much of their time in places with little sunlight anyway.  Just like we had to borrow words for umbrella, monsoon, spaghetti and other unfamiliar (at one time) things, so we should avail ourselves of komorebi.  This time of year it’s abundant if you stop and look up toward where the Wood-Pewees hang out.

Think how many English words we have for “kill” or “eat.”  That’s your practical world view.

Posted by: atowhee | August 18, 2016


Climate change continues to bring us bad news. Extreme weather.  Wild fires that are horrendous, and made more destructive because people have continued to build in forested areas.  Tropical diseases spreading their range–welcome to Zika City, Florida.  Used to be known as “Miami Beach.”

And July, 2016, once again, set a record as the hottest single month in modern history.  Like the death toll in Syria and the New York Stock Market, the numbers get bigger and bigger.

Louisiana, home of plenty of fossil fuel operations, got a nasty taste of unparalleled flooding.  Flooding so unusual that most of the victims were not even in official flood zones and thus not insured for flood damage.

While this is bad news for humans, we can decide to not live at sea level or in possible flood plains (which may need re-definition) and not build homes in forested areas and maybe even stop the spread of Zika, West Nile virus, dengue fever and other tropical diseases. However other animals have no news service, no alerts when fire or disease spreads through their habitat.  We humans are falling into a trench which may be lined with tragic memories of species that we have helped drive into extinction.   We broke the climate, can and will we fix it?


Posted by: atowhee | August 18, 2016


Many songbirds become quiet during the hottest part of summer.  The small flock of House Sparrows around our house do speak to one another in their flat cheeping language.  But the local Robins, House Finches, Juncos and Starlings are not often heard from. Back when the Starlings were nesting at our house six weeks ago they were singing, calling, fussing noisily.  After the young fledged, the quiet was noticeable. The Black-capped Chickadees do keep in touch by peeping back and forth.  Scrub-Jays, of course, continue their roles the town crier–alarms, food announcement, various news updates come at irregular intervals.    The Collared-Doves never seem to stop their moaning.

Now the nuthatches are among our most outspoken visitors.

Yesterday at Wennerberg Park the local White-breasted Nuthatch could be heard honking up in the Doug-firs as soon as we got out of our car.   And daily the Red-breasted Nuthatches in our garden can be heard.  Today a trio showed up, one adult and two juveniles.  The adult ferried food from our feeders to the anxious young.  The young begged with a soft twittering series of calls and wings a-flutter.  Even while mbeing fed the wing vibration continues, more than one flutter per second it seems.  Sometimes the adult arrives with food and begins to match the wing flutter of the youngster until the food is delivered, beak to beak.

Yesterday a single adult nuthatch came down into the garden and hunted on the folded, deeply cleft bark of our largest dawn redwood tree.  This group of nuthatches has become so used to us they sometimes buzz past at a few feet distance.rbn on trnk (1280x960) rbn on trnk2 (1280x960) rbn on trnk2a rbn on trnk3 (1280x960) rbn on trnk4 (1280x960) rbn on trnk5 (1280x960) rbn on trnk6 (1280x960) rbn on trnk7 (1280x960) rbn on trnk8 (1280x960)

Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 569 other followers

%d bloggers like this: